Smaller than the Malus John Downie variety, the Malus Rudolph crab apple tree is both an ornamental and fruit producing specimen.
The pretty bright pink and dark red flowers in Spring are enough to cheer up any person lucky enough to see it. You will also be treated to purple, yellow, red and green leaves during their yearly cycle of growth.
The modestly sized orange-red fruits are round in appearance with glossy skin. The benefits of the Rudolph crab tree are plentiful and you will find interest in it during every season.
It’s also quite hardy and doesn’t fall victim to some of the more common fruit tree pests such as scab. The fruit itself will be sourer than a regular eating apple but still perfectly edible.
The general rule of thumb is, the smaller the crab apple, the more acidic it will be. For this reason, Malus Rudolph crab apples are often used for jellies, jams, and other sauces.
Growing & Care of Malus Rudolph
Malus Rudolph crab apple trees boast a stunning display of pink and purple blossoms during the spring months.
The tree shape starts out quite narrow and upright when the specimen is young. But as it matures, the crown becomes more rounded. The flowers grow in small clumps and are roughly 5 cm in size. Young leaves will begin a dark brown-red colour before turning to green foliage during the summer.
Fruiting during the autumn and often producing well into the winter, Rudolph crab apples are small with orange-yellow skins.
They can be round or elongated in shape and against the foliage, making a stunning garden feature. They are hardy too, resisting some of the common apple tree pests. Once you have planted your Rudolph crab apple tree, you can expect it to bear fruit within 2 – 5 years. Its eventual height will be up to 7 metres and the crown becomes rounded with maturity.
- Best Feature: Resistant to common pests
- When To Plant Out: All year round
- Harvest Fruit: October and November
- Best Growing Position: Sunny and sheltered location
- Soil Type: Most soil types but not too wet
Common Pests & Diseases
Although often resistant to apple scab which is a plus, Rudolph crab apple trees can fall victim to some problems.
- Red Spider Mite: These mites feed off of the sap found on crab apple trees which can cause leaves to drop early. They can be troublesome between March and October when conditions are dry and warmer. Regular watering and removing any signs of an infestation is usually enough to deal with this issue.
- Apple Canker: A fungal disease, apple canker can cause the bark to die or appear sunken. The infection can take hold if there is a wound on the tree although it often begins on the bud. Any affected wood will need removing to prevent the disease from spreading further.
- Honey Fungus: Armillaria, a fungus that attacks plants and wood, is often given the name honey fungus. It gets its name from the appearance of honey-coloured mushrooms that often show up on the surface. Any infected wood should be removed and burnt to stop the spread.
History of Malus Rudolph
A close relation of Malus Niedzwetzkyana, Malus Rudolph was developed in Canada in 1954. It was raised by F.L. Skinner and named after the infamous reindeer Rudolph due to its rosy red flowers.
The name is quite apt seeing as though the crab apples can be enjoyed well into the winter.
Eating Malus Rudolph
Due to Malus Rudolph crab apples being on the sour side, you may want to put them to good use in jellies or jams.
Crab apples contain high levels of pectin which means you can make jelly without gelatine. They are great for use to make preserves and can be used to make cider as well. The tart flavours make them ideal for all sorts of culinary dishes.
You can expect your Malus Rudolph crab apple tree to grow from anywhere between 5 and 7 metres tall. They start fairly narrow but their eventual spread is wide and mature Rudolph trees have a rounded crown.
Malus Rudolph has got a scented blossom but it is very slight and in no way overpowering. During the spring you can enjoy the subtle aromas before the fruits star